Saturday, March 10, 2007

I Love Me Some Mashed Potatoes

I love me some mashed potatoes. Always have. Probably, always will. And making the “real” stuff is relatively easy. I have to specify “real” because when I was younger my family dabbled with the instant variety for a time. During my mashed potato journey I’ve changed from using margarine to salted butter to unsalted butter; I now use cream or half and half instead of milk; I try to use only Yukon Gold potatoes instead of the white variety; I’ve change from an electric mixer to an old-fashioned manual potato masher. Oh, and occasionally, I throw in some garlic. Gravy for potatoes is only produced at Thanksgiving.

During the past several years, I’ve discovered another joy of mashed potatoes: Potato Cakes made with day old leftovers for breakfast. I have my mother-in-law to thank for this morning-time treat (of course, they would be good for lunch or dinner as well). My family either did not have leftovers or just reheated leftovers to eat.

My version of Mashed Potatoes and an approximate version of CW’s Potato Cakes follow:

Mashed Potatoes

5 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced into ~ 1 inch chunks

3 garlic cloves (more or less to taste), peeled and quartered (make sure the garlic chunks are smaller than the potato chunks)

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided into individual tablespoon pats

2 teaspoons cream or half and half

Salt and pepper to taste

Water for boiling

Place potatoes and garlic in medium-sized pot. Cover with water. Sprinkle with salt. Boil potatoes for about 25 minutes. Watch the pot as the potatoes boil. When the potato foam rises, turn heat down to medium-high. When potatoes are tender, drain and throw back into the pot. Add butter pats, cream, and salt and pepper. Mash with a manual potato masher until potato chunks are relatively smooth and the butter has been incorporated. Potatoes should be very stiff, not soupy. Serve immediately.

And if you happen to have leftovers…

CW's Potato Cakes

2 cups leftover mashed potatoes (refrigerated for at least a day)

2 eggs

2-3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon peanut oil or bacon grease (if you are having bacon along with your potato cakes)

Salt and pepper to taste

In a small bowl combine potatoes and eggs. Add flour 1 tablespoon at a time and mix. The consistency should resemble thick pancake batter. Using a medium setting, heat oil or bacon grease in a non-stick skillet. Place ½ cup dollops of potato batter in hot oil. Cook 3-4 minutes and flip. Cook another 3-4 minutes. The outside of the potato cakes should be a golden brown. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

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